Although he’s no longer a Long Island resident — splitting his time between homes in Los Angeles and Belize — Dee Snider said he still considers himself a Long Islander at heart.
Last month, the headbanger from Baldwin, returned to the island for a one-night only performance at Patchogue’s Stereo Garden. He recorded the show to premiere at the release party for his new album, “Leave A Scar,” which will also be held at Stereo Garden on July 29.
Greater Long Island interviewed Snider via Zoom to discuss the upcoming album, his previous work and his time as a Long Islander.
We will release Snider’s reflection on his recorded Stereo Garden performance, produced by Sexy Wings Productions, and his inspiration for “Leave a Scar” when the album drops July 30 via Napalm Records.
For now, from the first album he bought to the first album he released, and some of his forthcoming projects, here’s what we learned about Dee Snider from the man himself:
1. He’ll always have a warm spot for Speaks of Island park
If Dee Snider had the power to resurrect one hallowed Long Island venue to play one final concert, it would be Speaks of Island Park. “It was like sort of the first of the big clubs,” he said. “And then they started to grow from there.”
Originally the Action House in the 1960s, and then the Rock Pile circa 1971, Speaks was a critical venue for Long Island’s hard rock and metal groups in the 1970s. Before they scored an album deal and toured the world, Twisted Sister held a Thursday night residency in the 1,000-seater.
Snider was raised in Baldwin, but grew up on Long Island’s stages, where he played several shows a week.
“Cheers was one of the smaller ones, you know, the first wave,” he said, referring to the since closed Deer Park venue. “And then when the scene had started to build through bands like Twisted Sister and Zebra, the venues got bigger and bigger and bigger. Speaks held a thousand, you got to Hammerheads [West Islip], it was a couple thousand. It was crazy, crazy times. But Speaks, I’ll always have a warm spot for that place.”
What would be the final song of the evening before Speaks is once again laid to rest? “‘Rock and Roll Saviors,’ the first original song that we used to play, it was a standard. Never made it to an album though.”
2. He supports charities on both coasts
The Long Island native returns to the island to host his annual Dee Snider Ride to raise money for various charities, most recently for Melissa’s Wish, which supports frontline caregivers to patients with severe illnesses, in 2019. Melissa Blackford, who died of cancer in 2009, requested that her parents, should they do anything in her name, help caregivers of terminally ill loved ones.
Snider also raised funds for Melissa’s Wish at last month’s Stereo Garden performance.
“Along the way, I’ve tried to find causes that resonate, that I could get behind,” Snider said. He said he feels connected with Melissa’s Wish because Blackford used to ride alongside him during his and March of Dimes’ Bikers for Babies fundraisers, which support prenatal wellness programs, research grants and advocacy efforts for premature birth. Snider said he was inspired to host his own Bikers for Babies, as two of his four children were born prematurely.
Since leaving Long Island, he has taken up another cause that spoke to him, one which he recently raised money for on Celebrity Family Feud: the National Coalition with Homeless Veterans.
“I don’t live on the East coast anymore, I live out in L.A., and the homeless thing is off the chain out here, off the chain, and with COVID worse than ever,” he said. “And when I became aware that a lot of these homeless are vets, I was just stunned.”
Snider’s father is a Korean War veteran who served in the U.S. Army’s 2nd Infantry.
“The idea that there’s veterans on the streets is just so wrong,” he said. “That’s cause de jour for me now, as well.”
3. His sole addiction: 25 cups of coffee
“I was drinking so much coffee back then, it was like weakening my bones,” Snider said of his Twisted Sister days. “Apparently, unbeknownst to me, that actually depletes calcium.”
Snider said he has abstained from from drugs and alcohol his entire life. However, he drank so much coffee during that time that the other members of the band considered firing him.
He said he drank 15 cups daily, “plus the three big ones from Dunkin Donuts, so it had to be like 25 cups a day.”
How much coffee does he still drink to this day? “Not too much, I like to think,” he said while looking at a metal sign in his house which reads “drink coffee do stupid things faster and with more energy.” “But I’m still an addict.”
4. The threats in his upcoming film will be more terrifying than Captain Howdy
Snider is no stranger to film and television. In 1998, he wrote and starred in “Strangleland,” a film loosely based on the Twisted Sister track “Horror-Teria: A) Captain Howdy B) Street Justice” from the band’s “Stay Hungry” album. Snider’s character and the film’s villain, Captain Howdy, is a kidnapper who commits horrible acts.
When asked to compare Captain Howdy with some of the characters who will appear in “My Enemy’s Enemy,” an upcoming film which marks Snider’s directorial debut, he said the threats in the forthcoming venture are more terrifying, as the film is based on a true Long Island horror story: The Sea Crest Diner invasion of 1982.
“Their based on actual living people who committed heinous, heinous crimes,” Snider said. As for the film’s plot, Snider said the film is based on the crime, but with a twist. “I took it and I ran with it, and I put an X factor in it, and I throw a spin on it.”
The diner invasion is considered one of the most horrendous crimes in the history of Long Island.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the shooting schedule of other films, Snider said filming has been pushed back to next spring. He said he is also writing a remake of another classic horror film.
5. His love of theater stems from Jones Beach
Although he has never played there, Snider loves Jones Beach Theater, a venue he has frequented since he was young.
“That amphitheater, I used to go there before it had concerts,” he said. “It had Broadway shows back in the 1960s and 1970s and even 1980s. My love of theater came from seeing shows there. But it’s a great concert place. To see a concert there, on a good night, as long as it ain’t raining, it’s amazing.”
Snider’s love of Broadway has also become an important part of his career. He starred in “Rock of Ages” and is preparing to perform in the ensemble for “Rock Me Amadeus Live,” which fuses rock classics from Led Zeppelin, The Police and Nirvana with classical music from Mozart, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.
As for his dream Broadway role: “I’d love to be in ‘Sweeney Todd.'” He added, “And I’d love to be Sweeney.”
6. He’s working with NBC’s Peacock on a children’s show
Snider has dabbled with voice acting for animated projects over the years, from “Motorcity” as the Duke of Detroit, to the character Angry Jack in the “Spongebob Squarepants” television series.
Now, he is working on the music for an upcoming animated children’s series for Peacock.
He has also been working on a fiction novel, a coming of age story set in the 1970s.
7. Best island summer spot: beaches in the east
Though he grew up out in Nassau, Snider’s favorite summer spot is out east, which he remembers fondly from his childhood. “I harken back to my childhood, and we used to do a lot of camping on Long Island,” he said. “Whether it was Wildwood or my personal favorite Heather Hills State Park right near Montauk Point, or North Fork, you were right on the beach. It was an incredible place to spend a summer when you were a kid.”
8. ‘Under the Blade,’ going on 40, is still ferocious
Twisted Sister’s debut album, “Under the Blade,” turns 40 next year, so we asked Snider what he thinks of the album’s legacy.
“The legacy of the album is tremendous,” Snider said “It never did gold or platinum or anything like that. But it is certainly the record that reflects the long hard years in the bars. And all those songs were written during that time period. So it really reflects a very ferocious time for Twisted Sister, and finally breaking through the wall that had been holding us back for so many years.”
The album’s title track, released as a single, never made it on the Billboard charts, but it has entered Congressional record. While it was “We’re Not Gonna Take It” that had the honor of making the Parents Music Resource Center’s “Filthy Fifteen,” the lyrics for “Under the Blade” were a point of contention during the famed PMRC Senate committee hearing in 1985.
Tipper Gore, a co-founder of the PMRC, believed the track was a glorification of sexual violence. Snider contended he penned the lyrics for Twisted Sister guitarist Eddie “Fingers” Ojeda, who was preparing to undergo throat surgery. He declared that listeners project their own meanings onto songs and find their own truths within them, and then notoriously contended any other meaning “is in the mind of Ms. Gore.”
The entire committee hearing, including Snider’s nearly 40-minute testimony, can be viewed here on C-Span.
9. His first album and first concert
Snider was still a child when he made his first album purchase: the soundtrack to the The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night,” the group’s first full-length movie. “I was very excited about that,” Snider said.
He admits he was “actually a late bloomer,” when it came to seeing bands live. He attended his first show a mere five years before he donned his makeup and costume and performed with Twisted Sister.
The concert: blues-rock band Ten Years After at Madison Square Garden.
“This was like 1971, shortly after they had appeared at Woodstock,” Snider said. “And it had sold out and it was an incredible experience.”
Two of the band’s members record and tour under the Ten Years After name five decades after their first album.
10. Who’s the best underrated Long Island band?
According to Snider, that honor belongs to the Good Rats, a band whose career predates Twisted Sister’s on the local scene.
Peppi Marchello founded and fronted the band in 1964 and played until his death in 2013. Since the 1990’s, his sons, Gene and Stefan, played alongside him under the Good Rats name. The band now continues under Stefan Marchello.
While not quite as heavy or as popular as Twisted Sister, the band played the same Long Island circuit as Snider.
“They had some great albums, but never escaped the Long Island scene, the tri-state scene,” Snider said. “And that’s a shame because they really were very creative. Peppi Marchello and the boys were a great band.”
The band’s classic album, “Tasty,” was rereleased on vinyl for Record Store Day in 2018 through Monostereo, the record label service division of Record Stop, LLC, which owns and operates a record store in Patchogue of the same name.
Check back with Greater Long Island to read the rest of our discussion with Dee Snider, where we discuss “Leave a Scar” and his one-night-only show at Patchogue’s Stereo Garden.